Relatively speaking, Vietnam is an affordable country for most tourists. With inexpensive accommodations, cheap street food and low-priced tours visitors can experience an enjoyable vacation on a budget. To the joy of budget travelers, the cost of visiting the island of Phu Quoc is not completely inflated (or, at least it doesn’t have to be!). During our 1-week visit, we discovered many cheap and free things to do in Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam.
There are a multitude of islands off the long eastern coast of Vietnam. However, the country’s most popular island destination – Phu Quoc – sits along the southern tip of the country in the Gulf of Thailand, near the Cambodia border. Phu Quoc – which is often referred to as Pearl Island, Vietnam – boasts long, sandy shorelines lined with palm trees and a range of beachfront resorts. As a bonus: Phu Quoc regularly ranks as one of the most affordable island destinations in the world.
Phu Quoc on a Budget
When we decided to visit Phu Quoc as part of our month-long trip to Vietnam, we were unsure what to budget for our time on the island. Could we afford a Vietnam island resort? Or would we have to settle for a Phu Quoc hostel? Were there expensive Phu Quoc attractions we couldn’t (or shouldn’t!) miss? What about eating in Phu Quoc? As budget conscious travelers, we were delighted that our dollars stretch farther in Vietnam – while still allowing ourselves to indulge in a few little luxuries – and we found the same to be true on our trip to Phu Quoc.
5 Cheap (or Free!) Things To Do in Phu Quoc
We felt like we had raced through Vietnam – spending time in Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An and Dalat before arriving in Phu Quoc. Stoked to have an entire week to relax beachside, at first, we were not too concerned with what to do in Phu Quoc. However, we quickly learned that some of the best Phu Quoc Island things to do were right outside our door.
This post contains everything you need to know to plan a budget trip to Phu Quoc – from what to do to where to stay to how to get there. Be sure to Save, Bookmark or Pin our Phu Quoc blog post so you can use it to plan your trip!
#1 Catch Some Rays at a Phu Quoc Beach
One of the top Phu Quoc activities is going to the beach – and there are plenty sandy shoreline spots to choose from! In fact, there are about 20 beaches in Phu Quoc where visitors can catch some rays and soak in the sea.
The sandy beach is where we spent most of our time on the island. We would take long walks on the western shoreline – both to the north and south – before finding a beachfront restaurant where we could eat our meals with our feet in the sand. When we got too hot, we waded into the water where we could idly bob in the salty sea. After a swim, we would sway in a hammock and listen to the breeze. And, at night when there were clear skies, we would stretch out on beach chairs to gaze at the stars.
Best Beach Phu Quoc: Long Beach
When we were searching for the best beach in Phu Quoc, our research kept leading us to Long Beach (or Bai Truong in Vietnamese). The white-sand beach extends for nearly 20km along the west coast of the island – from Duong Dong Town to An Thoi. Numerous hotels on Phu Quoc – from resorts to guesthouses – are found on Long Beach (more on where to stay in Phu Quoc at the end of the post!).
We think Long Beach is one of the best beaches in Phu Quoc because it is perfect for beach walking, sunbathing and bobbing in the calm sea – all of which are free things to do! But, in addition to the essential beach activities, Long Beach is also ideal for watching the local residents go about their daily business.
One of our favorite things to see in Phu Quoc on the beach were the local fishermen in round boats. We loved watching them paddle their small, circular boats, expertly negotiating the waves as they came ashore. Their on-land arrival would rouse the residents and local chefs, who would saunter down the beach to purchase the fresh fish.
On Long Beach, fishermen aren’t the only salespeople. Women selling fresh fruit amble up and down the beach in search of paying customers. Bananas are usually an inexpensive choice – and we bought a small bunch from a friendly vendor every day.
#2 Indulge in a Massage at a Phu Quoc Spa
Oh, how I love a good massage! Even better: a good massage…on the beach…that costs less than most fast-food lunches. A simple one-hour massage on a Phu Quoc beach can cost as little as $5 USD – which is why we think it is one of the top things to do in Phu Quoc, Vietnam!
The least expensive massages aren’t in spas. Instead, women set up massage pads on beach loungers in the shade of an umbrella. Most women offer a range of services – including everything from a full body massage to pedicures (only $3!) to hair removal. We indulged in a one-hour massage with aloe wrap on a lounger near the surf…and paid just $9 USD.
Visitors can have a more private experience in one of the Phu Quoc beach huts, where there is soft music playing and sweet aromas in the air. However, the ambiance comes with a price increase (yet, hardly ‘expensive’ compared to what massages cost in other parts of the world).
There are upscale spas on the island – and many of the hotels in Phu Quoc have on-site spas, as well. Clients should expect, however, to pay significantly more for treatments in these establishments. We saw hot stone massages advertised at a luxury spa for about $30 USD.
#3 Feast on Fresh Seafood at the Phu Quoc Night Market
For a taste of Phu Quoc nightlife – and the best food in Phu Quoc – there is no better place to go than the Dinh Cau Night Market in Duong Dong. During our time in Vietnam, we visited plenty of markets and ate a ridiculous amount of street food. However, nothing compared to the feast we consumed at the Night Market in Phu Quoc.
Vendors begin assembling the pop-up market at about 5pm, when the street is closed to traffic – and by 7pm, the place is hopping. Each vendor (there are about 50), displays heaping piles of seafood – fish, squid, scallops, snails, crab, lobster, and shrimp – many still living. Some vendors are aggressive, but we recommend walking through the entire market before making any purchases – as prices and freshness vary from stall-to-stall.
When we located a vendor that we liked, we grabbed a basket, filled it up with a variety of sea creatures and handed it to the chef (the guy hovering over the charcoal grill). After seasoning our selection, he grilled it to perfection. It was the tastiest seafood I’ve ever eaten…and the entire smorgasbord-for-two cost about $15 USD. (That said, it is important to note that prices are inflated for tourists and there are less expensive restaurants in Phu Quoc, where the fish is just as fresh!)
Shopping at the Market
Even if a seafood dinner is out of your budget, going to the Night Market is one of the essential things to do on Phu Quoc Island. Besides, seafood isn’t the only thing for sale at the Night Market. Other Phu Quoc food specialties (which cost less than a platter of seafood!) are the numerous sweet treats – like ice cream rolls and coconut candy – sold around the market. Cheap souvenirs are also sold at the market, including fake pearls (yes, if they are sold at the market, they are likely fake…so don’t overpay!).
For a different dining experience, we highly recommend splurging for a meal at The Spice House. We think it is the best restaurant in Phu Quoc, even if it is a little spendy for Vietnam (about $10 USD for main dishes) – read Spice House reviews.
Less expensive restaurants can be found along the beachfront, often on-site at the many water-facing Phu Quoc Island hotels. We loved dining at our resort’s restaurant, where we could put our feet in the sand and listen to the sound of the waves – and pay half of what our meal cost at The Spice House.
#4 Drink at the Best Bars in Phu Quoc
As budget conscious travelers, one of the things we love about Vietnam is the cheap beer! There is nothing more refreshing in the late afternoon than an ice-cold beer to combat the stifling heat. We expected beer to cost more on the island, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that most bars and restaurants sold a bottle of beer for less than $1 USD – which is cheaper than the coffee!
Beer is so affordable that we didn’t really need to worry about how it would affect our budget. We could saunter up to any beachside restaurant and throw back a few beers without hesitation. An even more affordable option is to grab a couple beers from a corner convenience store and sip it in the sand (or ocean!) during sunset.
Nightlife in Phu Quoc
We prefer to have a few drinks in the afternoon rather than party the night away…but there are a few nightclubs on the island where the entertainment extends into the wee hours. We wandered into Coco Bar a few times, but travelers looking for clubs can find top-recommended spots on TripAdvisor.
#5 Savor the Breathtaking Sunsets
Of all the island attractions and places to visit in Phu Quoc, there is no sight more stunning than the setting sun. The long, west-facing coastline provides the perfect opportunity to watch sunsets that we can only describe as luxurious…yet it is of course absolutely free! Big spenders and budget travelers alike need to make sure that watching sunsets is on their Phu Quoc To-Do list.
Every night of our stay, we made sure to be on the beach (or in the water!) for the spectacular display as the sun set over the sea. Even with stormy clouds, the sky would put on a show of dazzling, vivid colors. We highly recommend grabbing a few beers and finding a shoreline spot where you can settle in for the sight. For us, it was one of the most memorable and absolutely best things to do in Phu Quoc.
Want to enhance your sunset experience? Set sail on a Sunset Tour that includes a BBQ dinner and Squid Fishing…for less than $20 USD! Learn more here!
Tour Phu Quoc Sights
We didn’t think the following attractions were Phu Quoc must-see sights – so we skipped them on our trip (mostly because we were too busy being lazy on the beach). However, for travelers who want to expand their Phu Quoc sightseeing beyond the beaches, bars and markets, we have outlined a few more island sights, tourist attractions and places to visit.
It is possible to do these activities on Phu Quoc on your own (except for the boat tours) – or you can hire a Phu Quoc Island Guide to lead the way. Search for private guides (starting around $30 USD for a full day) on Viator.
Phu Quoc National Park
Covering nearly the entire northern half of the island is the Phu Quoc National Park. We read mixed reviews about visiting the park (and even heard of people not being allowed to enter), but nature-lovers might want to seek it out. In addition to viewing the exotic flora and fauna, the park is a great place to stretch your legs and get a little exercise. The National Park is one of the Phu Quoc tourist attractions that is often included in guided island tours, but the park is (or at least should be) open to all visitors free of charge.
Phu Quoc Hiking
Want to go hiking in Phu Quoc? There are numerous trails on the main island, as well as on Pineapple Island (Hon Thom Island). Find out more details about the Ganh Dau Trail and popular Ham Ninh Mountain Trek here.
Suoi Tranh Waterfall
It’s only a short hike to Suoi Tranh Waterfall – which flows in the rainy season and creates a pool where hot trekkers can cool off with a swim. The surrounding park includes manicured hedges and (reportedly, odd) animal statues. There is a small entrance fee.
Coconut Tree Prison
Wondering what to see in Phu Quoc as far as historic sights? The Phu Quoc prison might be what you are looking for. The prison was built by French colonists, but it was used during the Vietnam war to hold communist prisoners. Declared a historical monument in 1993, the prison museum displays recreate the life of prisoners and the torture they endured. It is free to enter.
Boat Trip Phu Quoc
There are numerous Phu Quoc boat trips that transport tourists off the main island to explore other nearby islands, beaches and coves. Some of the Phu Quoc day trips are expensive, but there are a few boat tours that are affordable.
3 Island Trip
On the 3-Island Boat Tour, visitors stop off at three spots, including the famous Fingernail Island, for a full day of fun in the sun. Lunch is included – and the total price is right around $30 USD. Get the details!
South Island Snorkeling and Fishing
Perhaps not the best snorkeling in Phu Quoc, this tour still comes at an affordable price of $20 USD per person. Book it now!
Dinh Cau Rock (Cau Temple) and Cao Dai Temple
These two colorful temples are located just steps from the Night Market. The Dinh Cau Rock Temple Shrine and lighthouse sit on a rocky outcrop and is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea. Many people visit the temple for sunset before going to the market. The striking and vibrant double-tower Cao Dai Temple is a place of worship more than a tourist attraction, but many visitors go to see it because of the bright colors.
On the east coast of the island, near the southern tip, is the beautiful Sao Beach. Raved by many as the Prettiest Beach on the Island, there is also a Beach Swing where tourists can get their photo taken for about $1 USD.
Don’t forget to Pin this post to use later as your Phu Quoc travel guide!
Phu Quoc Map
Our map of Phu Quoc attractions can help you to better plan a succinct trip. Use this link to Google Maps for our Phu Quoc Island Map online.
Phu Quoc Weather
The weather in Phu Quoc varies by season – from rainy to dry season – but average temperatures year-round are in the 80s and there are about 12 hours of sunshine every day. The most rainfall occurs from July to September. If you want to soak in the sunshine, the best time to visit Phu Quoc is between November and March, when there is substantially less rain. We visited in late September and experienced some rainy days, but overall it was sunny.
How To Get To Phu Quoc Island
There are two main ways of getting to Phu Quoc: Ferry Boat (cheaper option) or Flights to Phu Quoc. We opted to fly to Phu Quoc (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!), which was not the cheapest option, but by far the faster option.
We hopped on one of the flights from Ho Chi Minh to Phu Quoc. The 1-hour flight from HCMC to Phu Quoc cost about $25 USD. Unless you are on a bare-bones budget, we recommend buying tickets for one of the Phu Quoc flights. Start your search for the best fares on SkyScanner!
Phu Quoc Airport
The Phu Quoc International Airport opened in 2012 just 5 miles south of Duong Dong (the main city on the island) and just inland from Long Beach. The airport services year-round direct flights to Phu Quoc from HCMC, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. (There are also seasonal flights from other cities, such as Rach Gia and Can Tho.)
Transportation from the airport to Phu Quoc Island accommodations can be arranged through your lodging or in advance on Viator. There is also an inexpensive airport shuttle or metered taxis waiting at the airport.
Ferry Boats to the Island
Fast passenger ferry boats, operated by Superdong, depart from Rach Gia and Ha Tien to Bai Vong Pier on the east side of Phu Quoc. Tickets cost around $10 USD each way on the ferry. Check the schedule and prices here.
Phu Quoc Hotels
We think the best place to stay in Phu Quoc is on Long Beach. The island has endured a tourist boom in recent years, which has seen lodgings popping up along the entire stretch of Long Beach. Beachfront Phu Quoc Accommodation options range from posh resorts to cheap hostels. It is not difficult to find a hotel in Phu Quoc, but it’s best to book early to get the best value for money.
Phu Quoc Resort
‘Resort’ is a multifaceted word in Vietnam. It can mean anything from aging guesthouses to brand-new sprawling properties – and they are usually priced accordingly. There are several Phu Quoc 5-Star resorts that are in excess of $250 USD per night. That said, some of the best places to stay in Phu Quoc carry a 3-Star rating, include incredible amenities and are extremely affordable. Always read reviews from fellow travelers before booking.
Our Accommodation in Phu Quoc
After our thorough research of the many places to stay in Phu Quoc, we chose the family-run Phuong Binh Guesthouse. We think it is the best resort in Phu Quoc for budget travelers, as it is right on the beach. We fell asleep and woke each day to the sound of the waves.
The rooms feature air-con and either a garden or sea-view…and all rooms are just steps from the sand. The property (which has been completely renovated since our stay) has a pool and on-site beachfront restaurant that serves delicious local food. Nightly rates starting around $30 USD per night.
Want to stay in a Phu Quoc Bungalow? Phuong Binh House has 4 bungalows (but they cost double the price of a Deluxe Sea-View Room). Check availability and prices now!
Search for the best hotels in Phu Quoc within your budget on Booking.com!
Phu Quoc Tips
By now, you probably agree that Phu Quoc is worth visiting…even on a budget! We have a few more money-saving tips to make your trip an affordable one!
- Bring plenty of sunscreen! Buying sunscreen on the island can be ridiculously expensive.
- Pack your own snorkel gear if you want to snorkel along the beach. You won’t likely see amazing coral or that many fish, but we saw lots of star fish and other interesting things…and it was cheaper than booking a tour.
- Book your accommodations early for the best hotels at the lowest prices! Cheap hotels in Phu Quoc often fill up fast! Start your search on Booking.com.
- Don’t forget to buy Travel Insurance! We think travel insurance is essential – on any budget! – and wouldn’t travel without it…especially in Vietnam. Check for affordable travel insurance plans on World Nomads.
We Want To Know: What would you add to our list of Things To Do Phu Quoc? Are there any other Phu Quoc things to see that we should add to our list? Give us you best tips and advice in the comments below!
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